literature, quotations to write by

An interlude on Solzhenitsyn

Prophets are despised in their own country, and now and then I am tempted deeply by Cassandra’s fate.

So in appreciation of true prophets and great writers, who formed my understanding of the world as a young man, here are some brief testimonies of Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

“If one is forever cautious, can one remain a human being?”

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

“Woe to that nation whose literature is disturbed by the intervention of power. Because that is not just a violation against ‘freedom of print’, it is the closing down of the heart of the nation, a slashing to pieces of its memory. The nation ceases to be mindful of itself, it is deprived of its spiritual unity, and despite a supposedly common language, compatriots suddenly cease to understand one another. Silent generations grow old and die without ever having talked about themselves, either to each other or to their descendants. When writers such as Achmatova and Zamjatin – interred alive throughout their lives – are condemned to create in silence until they die, never hearing the echo of their written words, then that is not only their personal tragedy, but a sorrow to the whole nation, a danger to the whole nation.”

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

“For a country to have a great writer … is like having a second government. That’s why no régime has ever loved great writers, only minor ones.”

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

May his example of prophecy and late emergence as a writer serve me well.


This post originally appeared on my rarely read Happy Pessimist blog and was first posted on 15 August 2012 – eight years ago. Before taking down this blog, in fear of retribution for speaking my mind, I preserved the texts of my posts as a text file. Today I have been scrolling through old posts, correcting the occasional spelling error, and reflecting on past thoughts and regeneration of my mind in the next phase of my life. I can only hope that I may hear the echo of my written words.

Jeff Rich, Melbourne, December 2020

3 thoughts on “An interlude on Solzhenitsyn”

  1. “Preachers make pulpits famous; prophets make prisons famous.”

    –Leonard Ravenhill

    “They were prophets, not scribes, for the scribe tells us what he has read, and the prophet tells us what he has seen.”

    –A.W. Tozer

    “Let a thing here be noted, that the prophet of God sometimes may teach treason against kings, and yet neither he nor such as obey the word, spoken in the Lord’s name by him, offend God.”

    –John Knox

    “In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future.”

    — Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago

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